Ezekiel 21 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Ezekiel 21)

Verse 2

[2] Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel,

The holy places — The temple and all parts of it.

Verse 3

[3] And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.

The righteous — It is no unusual thing, that in publick calamities, those who are indeed righteous should be involved with others.

Verse 4

[4] Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north:

All flesh — All the Jews that dwell in the land.

Verse 5

[5] That all flesh may know that I the LORD have drawn forth my sword out of his sheath: it shall not return any more.

Shall not return — It shall not return into the scabbard 'till it hath done full execution.

Verse 6

[6] Sigh therefore, thou son of man, with the breaking of thy loins; and with bitterness sigh before their eyes.

Sigh therefore — Thereby express deep sorrow.

Breaking of thy loins — Like a woman in travail.

Verse 7

[7] And it shall be, when they say unto thee, Wherefore sighest thou? that thou shalt answer, For the tidings; because it cometh: and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water: behold, it cometh, and shall be brought to pass, saith the Lord GOD.

Because — The saddest news you ever heard is coming.

Verse 9

[9] Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD; Say, A sword, a sword is sharpened, and also furbished:

Furbished — Made clean and bright.

Verse 10

[10] It is sharpened to make a sore slaughter; it is furbished that it may glitter: should we then make mirth? it contemneth the rod of my son, as every tree.

Of my son — To whom God saith, Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Psalms 2:9. This sword is that rod of iron, which despiseth every tree, and will bear it down.

Verse 12

[12] Cry and howl, son of man: for it shall be upon my people, it shall be upon all the princes of Israel: terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon my people: smite therefore upon thy thigh.

It — The devouring sword.

Upon thy thigh — In token of thy sense of what they must suffer.

Verse 13

[13] Because it is a trial, and what if the sword contemn even the rod? it shall be no more, saith the Lord GOD.

If — But if the king and kingdom of Judah despise this trial, both shall be destroyed and be no more.

Verse 14

[14] Thou therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite thine hands together, and let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword of the slain: it is the sword of the great men that are slain, which entereth into their privy chambers.

And smite — In token of amazement and sorrow.

Of the slain — Wherewith many shall be slain.

Privy chambers — Where they were hidden in hope to escape.

Verse 15

[15] I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that their heart may faint, and their ruins be multiplied: ah! it is made bright, it is wrapped up for the slaughter.

All their gates — Both of cities, of palaces, and of private houses.

Wrapt up — And hath been carefully kept in the scabbard, that it might not be blunted.

Verse 16

[16] Go thee one way or other, either on the right hand, or on the left, whithersoever thy face is set.

Go — O sword, take thy own course.

Verse 17

[17] I will also smite mine hands together, and I will cause my fury to rest: I the LORD have said it.

Smite my hands — In token of my approbation.

Verse 19

[19] Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose it at the head of the way to the city.

Appoint — Paint, or describe them on a tile.

One land — That is, Babylon.

Chuse — Pitch on some convenient place, where thou mayest place Nebuchadnezzar's army, consulting where this one way divides into two, which was on the edge of the desert of Arabia.

At the head — Where each way runs, toward either Rabbath, or Jerusalem; for there Nebuchadnezzar will cast lots.

Verse 20

[20] Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defenced.

To Judah — The Jews.

Verse 21

[21] For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.

Stood — The prophet speaks of what shall be, as if it were already.

To use — To consult with his gods, and to cast lots.

Arrows — Writing on them the names of the cities, then putting them into a quiver, and thence drawing them out and concluding, according to the name which was drawn.

He consulted — Perhaps by a divine permission, the devil gave them answers from those images.

In the liver — They judged of future events, by the entrails, and more especially by the liver.

Verse 22

[22] At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint battering rams against the gates, to cast a mount, and to build a fort.

The divination — The divination which concerned Jerusalem, was managed on his right hand.

Verse 23

[23] And it shall be unto them as a false divination in their sight, to them that have sworn oaths: but he will call to remembrance the iniquity, that they may be taken.

Them — The Jews.

That have sworn — Zedekiah, his princes, and nobles, who swore allegiance to the king of Babylon, these perjured persons will contemn all predictions of the prophet.

He — Nebuchadnezzar.

The iniquity — The wickedness of their perjury and rebellion.

They — Zedekiah, and the Jews with him

Verse 24

[24] Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are discovered, so that in all your doings your sins do appear; because, I say, that ye are come to remembrance, ye shall be taken with the hand.

Your transgressions — Against God, and against the king of Babylon.

Discovered — To all in court, city, and country.

With the hand — As birds, or beasts in the net, are taken with the hands, so shall you, and be carried into Babylon.

Verse 25

[25] And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end,

And thou — Zedekiah.

Whose day — The day of sorrows, and sufferings, and punishment is at hand.

Shall have an end — Shall bring the ruin of king and kingdom, and with the overthrow of your state, the means of sinning shall end too.

Verse 26

[26] Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.

The diadem — The royal attire of the head, which the king daily wore.

Shall not be the same — The kingdom shall never be what it hath been.

Him that is low — Jeconiah. The advance of this captive king, came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of his captivity.

Verse 27

[27] I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.

Shall be no more — Never recover its former glory, 'till the scepter be quite taken away from Judah, and way be made for the Messiah. He hath an incontestable right to the dominion both in the church and in the world. And in due time he shall have the possession of it, all adverse power being overturned.

Verse 28

[28] And thou, son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites, and concerning their reproach; even say thou, The sword, the sword is drawn: for the slaughter it is furbished, to consume because of the glittering:

Their reproach — Wherewith they reproached Israel in the day of Israel's afflictions.

Verse 29

[29] Whiles they see vanity unto thee, whiles they divine a lie unto thee, to bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain, of the wicked, whose day is come, when their iniquity shall have an end.

While — While thy astrologers, and soothsayers, deceive thee with fair, but false divinations.

To bring thee — To bring thee under the sword of the Chaldeans, and destroy thee as the Jews; to make thee stumble and fall on their necks, as men that fall among a multitude of slain.

Verse 30

[30] Shall I cause it to return into his sheath? I will judge thee in the place where thou wast created, in the land of thy nativity.

Shall I cause it — God will by no means suffer the sword to be sheathed.

Judge thee — Condemn, and execute.

Verse 31

[31] And I will pour out mine indignation upon thee, I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men, and skilful to destroy.

I will blow — As those who melt down metals blow upon the metal in the fire, that the fire may burn the fiercer.